PDA

View Full Version : We can't afford moral certainty about torture.



hampshirebrit
11-14-2010, 10:11 AM
As a diversion from remonstrating with his Chinese hosts over their lapses on human rights, David Cameron took a moment last week to bring the subject closer to home. Responding to George Bush’s claim that the practice of waterboarding was justified because it had averted major terrorist attacks on British targets, Mr Cameron said that he thought torture was wrong and that “we ought to be very clear about that”. Then he added, “And I think we should also be clear that [the information you get from torture] is likely to be unreliable.” He elaborated on these points by explaining that “there is both a moral reason for being opposed to torture – and Britain doesn’t sanction torture – but secondly, I think there’s also an effectiveness thing…”

So Mr Cameron’s repudiation of Mr Bush rested on two propositions: that a) the British government was unequivocally opposed to torture (of which waterboarding was a form), and that b) torture didn’t produce anything useful. But why, if you maintain the first part as an inviolable principle (“Torture is never acceptable”), should there be any need to argue for the second? What point is there in discussing what Mr Cameron calls the “effectiveness thing” at all?

It is not only the Prime Minister who has issued this peculiar, two-pronged rejection of the Bush claims. Official British spokesmen have been jamming up television studios over the past week to reiterate the message that, in the words of Sir John Sawers, the head of the Secret Intelligence Service: “Torture is abhorrent and illegal under any circumstances and we have nothing to do with it.” But these forthright moral assertions were inevitably followed by an insistence that no terrorist plots against London were ever proved to have been prevented by evidence derived from such techniques. (Note in passing: it would be almost impossible to prove that an attack had been averted in this way. Even the confession by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the architect of 9/11, that he had planned attacks on Big Ben and Canary Wharf of exactly the kind that Mr Bush described, is dismissed as unreliable by those who espouse this position.)

This is part of a thought-provoking op-ed piece by the Telegraph's Janet Daley. Full article here. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/janetdaley/8131384/We-cant-afford-moral-certainty-about-torture.html)

PoliCon
11-14-2010, 10:15 AM
Its all about repeating the lie often enough. They have to repeatedly state that it is ineffective. If not people will look at the facts and realize that waterboarding (which I do not for a second consider torture) produced effective and actionable results.

m00
11-14-2010, 01:14 PM
Its all about repeating the lie often enough. They have to repeatedly state that it is ineffective. If not people will look at the facts and realize that waterboarding (which I do not for a second consider torture) produced effective and actionable results.

What criteria do you use to determine whether or not something is torture? (just curious)

Articulate_Ape
11-14-2010, 01:25 PM
What criteria do you use to determine whether or not something is torture? (just curious)

If your body parts are all intact and undamaged afterward, it ain't torture. If the worry is that our enemies might use waterboarding against our soldiers, then I would say that our soldiers should take comfort in that. I am pretty sure that they would prefer it to having their limbs amputated with an acetylene torch or being skinned alive or any of the other methods the enemies we currently face would use without hesitation.

m00
11-14-2010, 02:22 PM
If your body parts are all intact and undamaged afterward, it ain't torture. If the worry is that our enemies might use waterboarding against our soldiers, then I would say that our soldiers should take comfort in that. I am pretty sure that they would prefer it to having their limbs amputated with an acetylene torch or being skinned alive or any of the other methods the enemies we currently face would use without hesitation.

Low level electric shocks leave body parts intact and undamaged. Do you consider that torture?

Articulate_Ape
11-14-2010, 02:39 PM
Low level electric shocks leave body parts intact and undamaged. Do you consider that torture?

Nope, I call it an incentive.

hampshirebrit
11-14-2010, 03:34 PM
Look, I do think that waterboarding is a little bit more than harsh words with some added liquid refreshment, but if that's what it takes to save me and mine from having our limbs torn asunder in some bomb attempt (and I have already, relatively narrowly, escaped one such incident, and have met, thankfully on nodding terms only and thus entirely ignorant of his ambition, someone who ended up succeeding, only too well, in his own attempt), then I am all for it.

The whole point, I think, of the article I posted above, is that discussions about torture in academic and theoretical fora are all well and good, but in practical terms, we depend almost entirely on allowing our security forces the ability to persuade some very unpleasant (usually religiously inclined) people to give up information to prevent loss of innocent life.

If someone gets a bit wet and inconvenienced, and as a result of that wetness and that inconvenience, me and mine and you and yours get to live our lives out in peace, then so be it.

Articulate_Ape
11-14-2010, 04:22 PM
Look, I do think that waterboarding is a little bit more than harsh words with some added liquid refreshment, but if that's what it takes to save me and mine from having our limbs torn asunder in some bomb attempt (and I have already, relatively narrowly, escaped one such incident, and have met, thankfully on nodding terms only and thus entirely ignorant of his ambition, someone who ended up succeeding, only too well, in his own attempt), then I am all for it.

The whole point, I think, of the article I posted above, is that discussions about torture in academic and theoretical fora are all well and good, but in practical terms, we depend almost entirely on allowing our security forces the ability to persuade some very unpleasant (usually religiously inclined) people to give up information to prevent loss of innocent life.

If someone gets a bit wet and inconvenienced, and as a result of that wetness and that inconvenience, me and mine and you and yours get to live our lives out in peace, then so be it.


Precisely, Hamp.

Bleda
11-14-2010, 04:25 PM
I don't really know why torture is considered “immoral.” How is it immoral to chop off the hands of a rapist, or a murderer, or a terrorist? It's only immoral if you do it to an innocent person.

That said, we pretty much have no need to torture, since there are good ways to extract information other than torture, such as enhanced interrogation techniques. :cool:

PS: And yes, there's really no objective definition of torture. It all seems to be very subjective and arbitrary.

megimoo
11-14-2010, 04:54 PM
Look, I do think that waterboarding is a little bit more than harsh words with some added liquid refreshment, but if that's what it takes to save me and mine from having our limbs torn asunder in some bomb attempt (and I have already, relatively narrowly, escaped one such incident, and have met, thankfully on nodding terms only and thus entirely ignorant of his ambition, someone who ended up succeeding, only too well, in his own attempt), then I am all for it.

The whole point, I think, of the article I posted above, is that discussions about torture in academic and theoretical fora are all well and good, but in practical terms, we depend almost entirely on allowing our security forces the ability to persuade some very unpleasant (usually religiously inclined) people to give up information to prevent loss of innocent life.

If someone gets a bit wet and inconvenienced, and as a result of that wetness and that inconvenience, me and mine and you and yours get to live our lives out in peace, then so be it.

It's more a question of common sense to me .If some Islamic critter is willing to blow himself and a bunch of civilian people to kingdom come then I'm fine with water boarding captured terror suspects,Israeli style profiling, searching all Arabic looking critters and full body searches for any who refuse scanning.They, the TSA searchers, should be fully screened to cull out any Queers or ' free feel' Critters,The alternative is to shut down all air travel.

As far as I can tell the only critters who are blowing up other people are Arab Terrorists and they are all Muslims so whats the problem with profiling all Arab looking critters?

Playing nice with a critter who wants to put your head on a stake seems to me insanity.The UK has become an net exporter of terrorists because of their insanity of PC tolerance over common sense. Islam have taken advantage of the UK's fixation with all things PC and have run 'Rough Shod' over the countries law abiding citizens.

Muslim preachers are in the streets calling for overthrow of the countries legal system and replacing it with an old Muslim Desert Tribal rules.

Islam is attempting to take over all of Europe by way of stealth and has had it's best results in the UK.
The French ,Swedes and to a lesser extent the Germans have been 'pushing back' trying to stem the Arab hordes with mixed results.Islam has no interest in adopting a host countries culture and becoming a citizen but rather they are intent on changing it into an Islamic country.

Whether we realise it or not this is an invasion of our very culture by a primitive tribal mentality intent on conquest who are willing to slaughter us if we chose not to obey..

hampshirebrit
11-14-2010, 05:02 PM
...

The sentiments are sound, while at the same time the means of expressing them are somewhat lurid. There is little for one to take exception to from a UK perspective.

I'll just say, if I may, that the non-Muslim public of the UK and of the EU are edging ahead on this issue, certainly ahead of their elected representatives.

megimoo
11-14-2010, 06:03 PM
The sentiments are sound, while at the same time the means of expressing them are somewhat lurid. There is little for one to take exception to from a UK perspective.

I'll just say, if I may, that the non-Muslim public of the UK and of the EU are edging ahead on this issue, certainly ahead of their elected representatives.Are you being diplomatic in your language being aware of your position .From my point of view if Europe,that is the old Europe, had better stiffen its spine quickly or it will be too late.Islam is moving more quickly than Hitler in taking over the continent.

Madisonian
11-14-2010, 06:14 PM
This is part of a thought-provoking op-ed piece by the Telegraph's Janet Daley. Full article here. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/janetdaley/8131384/We-cant-afford-moral-certainty-about-torture.html)

Yeah, Brits don't believe in torture. Tell that to the Irish with a straight face.

hampshirebrit
11-14-2010, 06:37 PM
Looks like I may have unintentionally touched a raw nerve here, with both one of our newer and one of our more august posters.

Madisonian, I will be the first to admit to British wrongdoing in Belfast. In return, I do not require anyone to apologise for Warrington or Omagh, although such apology is surely due.

Megi, I'm not being diplomatic, or even trying to. I think you're right. Europe needs to stiffen its spine, as you put it. I think in this instance, the people of Europe are well ahead of the politicians of Europe.

Rockntractor
11-14-2010, 06:42 PM
the people of Europe are well ahead of the politicians of Europe.

We are in the same boat Hamps!

Articulate_Ape
11-14-2010, 07:03 PM
I think the bottom line here is that the academic approach to this subject in based upon, and defended by the pronoun "we". I would submit that the people who cry loudly about torture and the nature of same do so under the false aegis of that very pronoun. "We don't/won't torture and won't stand for it!" they proclaim from their library armchairs.

Put those same moralists in an empty room with a guy who knows where one of their loved ones is buried alive and hand them a hatchet. Then turn of the video camera.

When you turn the "W" in "We" over it becomes "Me". And that makes all the difference in the world.

hampshirebrit
11-14-2010, 07:28 PM
I think the bottom line here is that the academic approach to this subject in based upon, and defended by the pronoun "we". I would submit that the people who cry loudly about torture and the nature of same do so under the false aegis of that very pronoun. "We don't/won't torture and won't stand for it!" they proclaim from their library armchairs.

Put those same moralists in an empty room with a guy who knows where one of their loved ones is buried alive and hand them a hatchet. Then turn of the video camera.

When you turn the "W" in "We" over it becomes "Me". And that makes all the difference in the world.

I think this is far too easy and glib a dismissal, as perhaps my own earlier post was.

I think that use of so-called enhanced interrogation methods opens a moral can of worms, one that must be debated and constantly re-evaluated.

To me, the content of Janet Daley's DT piece does not rule out such debate. Rather, it seeks, quite rightly in my view, to encourage it.

We need to consider if it is justifiable, and if so, when, where, how and by who, and to what limits.

Personally, I think that decision should be driven by the urgency and severity of the threat, those factors being allowed to take precedence over other factors.

The real question is, who does it, and under what authority and circumstance.

Bleda
11-14-2010, 07:48 PM
It's more a question of common sense to me .If some Islamic critter is willing to blow himself and a bunch of civilian people to kingdom come then I'm fine with water boarding captured terror suspects,Israeli style profiling, searching all Arabic looking critters and full body searches for any who refuse scanning.They, the TSA searchers, should be fully screened to cull out any Queers or ' free feel' Critters,The alternative is to shut down all air travel.

As far as I can tell the only critters who are blowing up other people are Arab Terrorists and they are all Muslims so whats the problem with profiling all Arab looking critters?

Not all terrorists (or even the terrorists who've attacked or attempted to attack us) are Arabs or Arab-looking. Take the Underwear Bomber, for instance. Perhaps “Muslims” would've been more accurate than “Arabs”, megimoo, but I'd venture a guess and say if a terrorist was planning on doing something naughty these days they wouldn't try to look like a devout Muslim. Why would they draw so much attention to themselves?

Madisonian
11-14-2010, 07:53 PM
Looks like I may have unintentionally touched a raw nerve here, with both one of our newer and one of our more august posters.

Madisonian, I will be the first to admit to British wrongdoing in Belfast. In return, I do not require anyone to apologise for Warrington or Omagh, although such apology is surely due.

Megi, I'm not being diplomatic, or even trying to. I think you're right. Europe needs to stiffen its spine, as you put it. I think in this instance, the people of Europe are well ahead of the politicians of Europe.

Don't get me wrong. It is not that I am 100% opposed to the use of alternative information gathering techniques. It is, as you said a matter of justification, authority and circumstance.

I do not think there is a government now or in the past that has not employed torture for some means to some end. The hypocrisy of any one calling nation out another for it would be more to my point, our own government included.

Articulate_Ape
11-14-2010, 08:07 PM
I think this is far too easy and glib a dismissal, as perhaps my own earlier post was.

I think that use of so-called enhanced interrogation methods opens a moral can of worms, one that must be debated and constantly re-evaluated.

To me, the content of Janet Daley's DT piece does not rule out such debate. Rather, it seeks, quite rightly in my view, to encourage it.

We need to consider if it is justifiable, and if so, when, where, how and by who, and to what limits.

Personally, I think that decision should be driven by the urgency and severity of the threat, those factors being allowed to take precedence over other factors.

The real question is, who does it, and under what authority and circumstance.


"Opens a moral can of worms"?

Does any mature and rational human being honestly believe that these measures have not been employed by all governments/groups during war (most sans war) since pain was invented; or that they are not still employed by all governments/groups during war (most sans war) and will be until we achieve the myth of world peace?

megimoo
11-14-2010, 09:07 PM
Not all terrorists (or even the terrorists who've attacked or attempted to attack us) are Arabs or Arab-looking. Take the Underwear Bomber, for instance. Perhaps “Muslims” would've been more accurate than “Arabs”, megimoo, but I'd venture a guess and say if a terrorist was planning on doing something naughty these days they wouldn't try to look like a devout Muslim. Why would they draw so much attention to themselves?True.The underwear bomber was black and Richard Reid the shoe bomber was an English convert .Neither one looked like a desert Arab .That's where profiling comes into play.If we used the same system as the Israeli's we would have picked both of them up before they even boarded the aircraft.With just about every Islamic country in the world against Israel and willing to die to destroy her it's amazing just how few terrorist incidents they have on their aircraft.

Their security methods definitely work but GOD forbid we ever use common sense and adopt them in America.

They are so non PC.They're inhuman to those who are trying their best to blow us out of the skies when we travel by aircraft.How can we be so cruel to those poor people who's only wish is to blow us into little bits at thirty seven thousand feet in the air.

We are so selfish and insensitive to those poor innocent, misunderstood terrorists.We should never protect ourselves and suspect them of any any acts of terror until they actually kill us as that is the sensitive way to behave .

PoliCon
11-14-2010, 11:05 PM
Low level electric shocks leave body parts intact and undamaged. Do you consider that torture?

Acts that cause actual physical harm - you know like the rack or thumb screws or an iron maiden . . . . . or lasting psychological damage.

PoliCon
11-14-2010, 11:26 PM
Look, I do think that waterboarding is a little bit more than harsh words with some added liquid refreshment, but if that's what it takes to save me and mine from having our limbs torn asunder in some bomb attempt (and I have already, relatively narrowly, escaped one such incident, and have met, thankfully on nodding terms only and thus entirely ignorant of his ambition, someone who ended up succeeding, only too well, in his own attempt), then I am all for it.

The whole point, I think, of the article I posted above, is that discussions about torture in academic and theoretical fora are all well and good, but in practical terms, we depend almost entirely on allowing our security forces the ability to persuade some very unpleasant (usually religiously inclined) people to give up information to prevent loss of innocent life.

If someone gets a bit wet and inconvenienced, and as a result of that wetness and that inconvenience, me and mine and you and yours get to live our lives out in peace, then so be it.

One of the most dangerous things we can do is treat this like a black or white issue and deny the reality of shades of gray.

PoliCon
11-14-2010, 11:27 PM
PS: And yes, there's really no objective definition of torture. It all seems to be very subjective and arbitrary. The left LOVES that it's subjective. That way they can keep moving the bar.

PoliCon
11-14-2010, 11:29 PM
As far as I can tell the only critters who are blowing up other people are Arab Terrorists and they are all Muslims so whats the problem with profiling all Arab looking critters?

Funny how there is no complaint about how teachers are profiled all the time. You wanna work as a teacher - the government assumes that you are guilty of molesting kids until you prove otherwise.

Articulate_Ape
11-14-2010, 11:31 PM
. . . or lasting psychological damage.

In the case of savages willing to kill and die for a space monster, that one is a little hard to pin down, so I would take my chances.

Rockntractor
11-14-2010, 11:47 PM
Funny how there is no complaint about how teachers are profiled all the time. You wanna work as a teacher - the government assumes that you are guilty of molesting kids until you prove otherwise.

Not the topic of the thread.

PoliCon
11-15-2010, 12:03 AM
Not the topic of the thread.

Tough shit. Someone brought up profiling - I responded. Take it up with that person not me.

PoliCon
11-15-2010, 12:03 AM
In the case of savages willing to kill and die for a space monster, that one is a little hard to pin down, so I would take my chances.

a little anxiety is not lasting psychological damage. Making someone go insane is.

Rockntractor
11-15-2010, 12:06 AM
Tough shit. Someone brought up profiling - I responded. Take it up with that person not me.

Go down to the airport for a free groin check, you'll feel better.

megimoo
11-15-2010, 12:19 AM
Go down to the airport for a free groin check, you'll feel better.And wear your frilly skivvies,someone may give you a tumble !